I had intended to compose this post before Jerry, who is on a Dickens jag, finished reading Great Expectations. But he is on to Barnaby Rudge. . . My timing wasn’t perfect. Oh well, it doesn’t matter.
Between June 20-30 I posted about perfection, imperfection, expectations, and contentment. I need to write more (less?). I need to say what I am not saying. I am not saying it is wrong to have goals, to plan for or look forward to things. I am not saying it’s okay not to have expectations because they have been crushed. I am not saying hope is bad.
I think I am saying that striving for perfection down here–in circumstances, in others, in ourself–is attempting to catch the wind. (Thank you, King Solomon.) Forever swirling around us, teasing us but only momentarily within our grasp: the gold star, the gold medal, the full-blown rose, the prom dress, the kiss as the ring slips onto the finger, the commendation from the boss.
I am saying that expectations of perfection in this life will be disappointed and that that’s a good thing, because it is imperfection in this life that drives us to yearn, increasingly, for the eternally perfect in the next. (C.S. Lewis pointed this out and my friend Carol Bishop reminded me of it before she herself entered the Perfect).
I am saying that instead of looking outward, we would be better off relaxing inward, withdrawing into that place where Jesus has taken up residence within us (if we have invited Him there). And where we reside in him. Hiddeninjesus. He is always there, waiting to include us in his contentment.
I am saying we can reside there always but not exclusively, hermits from life. There are mountains to be climbed, battles to be fought, justices to be won. Somehow we can stay present and centered in Jesus and recognize Jesus present and centered in us–he says in John 17 both are true–even during the doing of life. Be in the garden with him while he is in the arena with us. Resting while engaging.
Jesus managed to do both at once. He was as fully conscious of and resting in His father’s embrace while dealing with clamoring crowds as when he withdrew from them to touch base with the Father in eternity for a few moments.
So was Brother Lawrence.